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McDermott takes over Eagles' defense for recovering Johnson

Sean McDermott will replace Jim Johnson as the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive coordinator, the team announced Friday, two days before the start of training camp.

La Canfora: Johnson one of the best

Jason La Canfora rates Jim Johnson among the best coordinators of the modern era and examines Sean McDermott, who now will lead the Eagles' defense.

Johnson, 68, took an indefinite leave of absence in May to continue treatment for a cancerous tumor on his spine. It's uncertain whether he'll return to the team in any capacity.

"First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with Jim Johnson and his family as they battle through this difficult time in his cancer treatments," Eagles coach Andy Reid said in a statement released by the team. "I have been in constant communication with Jim and his wife throughout this offseason and they are thankful for all the support they have received from the Eagles organization, the fans and the entire NFL community."

McDermott, 35, will be introduced as the Eagles' defensive coordinator at a news conference Saturday afternoon. He ran the defense in Johnson's absence after serving as secondary coach last year.

McDermott originally joined the Eagles in 1998 as a scouting administrative coordinator, and he has served in various roles as an assistant on the defensive staff.

"We have full confidence he can continue to lead this defense in his new role," Reid said in the statement. "He showed great command and presence in the offseason camps and has had an opportunity to learn from the best in the business. He's very smart, works very hard and has a good rapport with the players and the assistant coaches. He's ready for this, and I'm confident he'll do a great job."

McDermott has big shoes to fill because Johnson is widely regarded as one of the top defensive masterminds in the NFL. Johnson is known for his aggressive, attacking style, and his defenses have played a major role in the Eagles' success over the last decade.

Last season, the Eagles finished third in total defense and fourth in points allowed. They advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the fifth time in the last 10 seasons.

Johnson spent two seasons in the NFL as a player with the Buffalo Bills in 1963 and 1964. He began his coaching career at Missouri Southern in 1967 and was the secondary coach at Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish won the national championship in 1977.

Johnson spent the last 23 seasons coaching in the NFL, including 10 years as Philadelphia's defensive coordinator.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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